Donte’ Stallworth is a new man in his second stint in New England
|07.27.12 at 6:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO– Wide reciever Donte’ Stallworth‘s first tour with the Patriots shouldn’t be as rough as the first one. At least not maturity-wise.
The 31-year-old left the Patriots after the 2007 season and his career spiraled out of control, both on and off the field. In 2009, Stallworth pled guilty to DUI manslaughter and served one month in jail after killing a man in Miami driving his Bentley. He admitted that he was not the most mature player earlier in his career, but now, things are different.
“Me personally, I know I’ve matured as a player, matured as a person,” he said. “[I’m] a lot smarter now than I was then when I was back here at the age of 26, playing off of talent. Now I’ve developed into a smarter player, better route runner and things like that.”
Stallworth’s maturity should translate to the football classroom where he can help the young guys.
‘I just try to go out and help out the young guys as much as I can, because I was once that guy,’ he said. ‘Anything that I see from the younger guys that they might not notice that they’re doing, I try to pull them to the side and tell them some things here and there. Mainly I just try to do things that I’ve learned throughout my career.’
He later added: “Back here in ’07 it was my fifth or sixth year in the league and I was still one of the youngest players on the team. [Mike] Vrabel, [Tedy] Bruschi, Rodney [Harrison], [Troy Brown], Randy [Moss] all those guys were super veterans and I was just a veteran at the time. Now throughout my career I picked up a lot of things, learned a lot from those guys. Now that I’m here in my 10th year I’m trying to helping the younger guys out the way those guys helped me out.”
Even with all the legal issues, Stallworth never wavered from his positive attitude and never worried about the fact his career may have been in danger.
“I always try to keep positive, as best I can. That never really honestly crossed my mind at the time. But now looking back on it, knowing how blessed I am to still be here doing what I love to do and being around the fellas. It’s truly a blessing.”
Head coach Bill Belichick also had some words about the receiver’s return to New England. Belichick and the Patriots decided not to pick up his team option for 2008 after he 46 catches for 697 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2007.
“I would say Donte’ has really matured a lot since he was here in ‘07, ” Belichick said. “He’s been a very positive example and influence with what he does on a daily basis, but also some of things that he’s done with other players on the team. He’s shown a lot more leadership and he’s a very professional athlete, he really takes his job seriously and acts in a very professional way. He’s a great example for all of us on a daily basis. I would say that’s definitely grown since he was here in ‘07.”
Stallworth was excited about the prospects of coming back to New England and has taken a mature approach to getting to know his fellow wideouts.
‘I think we have an opportunity to play really well this year but we’re a long ways from that,” he said. “The training camp [days] are the dog days every day — Groundhog Day. You have to keep stringing them together. The good thing about it is we’re all cool. Well before training camp started, all the receivers took a trip together, just to try to build some continuity with each other and get to know each other a little better. We’re all in it for each other — we all help each other on the field, in the classroom and things like that.”